Investing in simulation training technology is serious business. For many agencies, this is a “once-in-a-lifetime” purchase—especially if stakeholders cannot easily see a clear return on the investment. A poor start can leave a training program floundering for years.
Asking these three questions before you begin weighing your options is an important step in building a solid foundation for the future growth of your existing training program:
What’s the Purpose?—What’s the primary purpose for buying the simulator now?
What Are Our Goal(s)?—What are your immediate and long-term goals?
Who is the Simulation Team?—Who inside your organization is going to “own” this simulation training technology solution?
Starting your search with these questions puts you significantly ahead of the game. You won’t just choose the right simulation training technology at the outset—you’ll have a solid foundation for integrating that training technology into your program from day one and evolving that program to meet the unforeseeable demands of the future.
Determine the Purpose
What’s our primary immediate purpose for buying simulation training technology? Who are we training and what are we teaching them?
As we’ve discussed in the past “Starting Out Right with Simulation Training Technology”, there are four primary uses of simulation training:
- Recertification – Periodic refresher training for existing drivers and senior operators
- Remedial – Corrective training after a collision and for operators with chronic issues (e.g., clipping mirrors, hard braking, etc.)
- Requalification – Requalifying experienced transit and CMV operators coming to mass transit operation after a prolonged absence
- New Hire Training — Introducing the fundamentals to those totally new to operating mass transit vehicles
Any high-quality sim can be used for all of these. But different features are more important in different situations. For example, we know that in order to ensure skills transfer for new hires “Simulator Training Tip: Use Accurate Non-virtual Custom Cabs to Ensure Training Transfer”, it may be important to opt for an accurate non-virtual vehicle cab. (Research on skills transfer to date has largely been done on such full-cab sims, not VR headsets or desktop programs.)
Define the Goals
What’s our immediate goal for simulator training? What are our “stretch goals” once we get that first program rolling?
A good goal is one that can be tracked unambiguously over a given period. Examples:
- Reducing the total number of claims
- Reducing the total dollar amount in claims
- Reducing the total number of collisions
- Reducing the severity of collisions
- Eliminating a specific collision type
- Increasing training throughput
- Reducing trainee wash-out
What’s important is to set a concrete goal with a clear timeline. Build-in specific “check-in” points to see if you’re on track. For example, if the initial goal is “Reduce mirror strikes by X percent over the next calendar year,” you’ll want to check on your progress at least quarterly. Be willing to tweak the training program or investigate further if you don’t see the numbers you expect.
Create the Simulation Training Team
Who among us “owns” this solution?
As we discussed in a previous blog post “Getting Results with Public Transport Simulation”, your simulation team is the most important aspect of your program. Whenever possible, having that team’s input as you begin comparing simulation training technology platforms will help ensure a smooth roll-out and an early return on investment. FAAC has programs in place to support your team in integrating your new and existing programs with simulation technology solutions.
A good simulation team has multiple members (don’t put this all on one set of shoulders!) who are gathered from throughout your organization (if necessary), and are curious and enthusiastic about exploring how simulation can serve your agency.
FAAC has helped countless training teams bridge the gap between their existing training program and one enhanced by simulation training. Contact us now for links to free resources or to discuss how to help your program grow to meet a hard-to-predict future.